Review of issues about classical change scores: A multilevel modeling perspective on some enduring beliefs

Z. Gu*, W.H.M. Emons, K. Sijtsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Change scores obtained in pretest-posttest designs are important for evaluating treatment effectiveness and for assessing change of individual test scores in psychological research. However, over the years the use of change scores has raised much controversy. In this article, from a multilevel perspective, we provide a structured treatise on several persistent negative beliefs about change scores and show that these beliefs originated from the confounding of the effects of within-person change on change-score reliability and between-person change differences. We argue that psychometric properties of change scores, such as reliability and measurement precision, should be treated at suitable levels within a multilevel framework. We show that, if examined at the suitable levels with such a framework, the negative beliefs about change scores can be renounced convincingly. Finally, we summarize the conclusions about change scores to dispel the myths and to promote the potential and practical usefulness of change scores.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-695
JournalPsychometrika
Volume83
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • CLINICAL-SIGNIFICANCE
  • DIFFERENCE SCORES
  • FORMULAS
  • GAIN SCORES
  • GROWTH CURVE MODELS
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • RELIABILITY
  • TASK
  • WORKING-MEMORY
  • change score
  • classical test theory
  • measurement precision
  • negative beliefs about change scores
  • reliability

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